We're getting closer to the opening of NBA training camps and I can't wait. My fingers are crossed that everything works out and there are no last minute glitches.
Here are my top-five thoughts for Monday:
1. UNC-Kentucky game: This game was an NBA scout's dream date, with a ton of prospects on the court.
It was a terrific game and I'm hopeful we see these two teams hook up again late in the NCAA Tournament right here on TSN. If you're a fan of the NBA Draft--it's a terrific year for potential prospects and a game like this just shows you what's to look forward to when these young guys figure out how to perform at a high level with consistency.
2. NBA Schedule: The new schedule will be released on Tuesday so we can all figure out what the 66 games in 120 day marathon is going to look like for your favourite team.
Needless to say, they'll be lots of complaining about travel, back to backs, three in a row stretches and who is and isn't on the schedule. I'm just glad that we're back at it and regardless of who, when, how and why you play teams you still have find a way to win them.
Because everyone will have issues to deal with, the cream as always will still rise to the top.
3. Ownership, management and coaching: There's so much chatter out there about big vs. small markets and salary cap/Luxury tax issues.
I understand that certain players want to choose where and whom they play with and for and that will continue to be a major discussion even with a new CBA.
With that being said, it still comes down to regardless of market size, money, salary cap and luxury tax, how committed ownership is.
Successful clubs have a good management team and a top-notch coaching staff. The best organizations in the NBA and in other sports as well still have these factors in play in a positive way and that to me is the biggest reason why teams succeed or fail.
Great players make a huge difference but if the right foundation isn't there--it won't work. Whatever team you root for--that's the key ingredient that has to be in place or you're doomed.
4. Harvard: How about this? For the first time ever, Harvard basketball has made it into the Top 25 in NCAA Basketball polls.
Congratulations to coach Tommy Amaker and the Crimson for that wonderful accomplishment. This undefeated team already has beaten Florida State and the veteran club is tough defensively and poised to win the Ivy League for an NCAA bid.
They were so close last year but came up a bit short to Princeton and I'm sure the Tigers will be the main competition again. They'll have there hands full holding on to Top 25 with NCAA Champion UConn up next.
Enjoy it while it lasts, but it should be a fun season in Boston though.
5. Dwane Casey: I'm sure Toronto Raptors coach Casey is counting the hours and minutes until he and his staff can finally get back to doing what they love. being on the practice floor with their players.
I learned this a long time ago when I was coaching. 'You only get what you demand.' He has President/GM Bryan Colangelo's full support and for the organization to grow and develop into a contender he has to challenge this young squad from minute one to play the game hard, tough, right and together--nothing less is acceptable.
The wins and losses will come and go--it's all about developing the proper mind set amongst everyone involved and with proper drafting, player development, trades, free-agency the process will reap the rewards of the tough love that will be necessary.
The Raptors have to find out things about a lot of their players to decide who stays and who goes as they methodically put the 'right' pieces together over time.
In order to make the right evaluations you have to put it to them and find out what they're made of. I'm confident if the long term developmental view is used that some positive developments will take place with the current roster and more importantly in the seasons to come because they'll know what they have and the bigger key, what they have to go get.
Stick to your guns and get the best out of them. That attitude and work will pay off in the end.